Monthly wrap-up: January

Normally in my monthly reviews, I just list what I read, what I'm looking forward to in the upcoming month, and what books I plan on reading that month. I'm still doing that, but considering I made a lot of blog/reading resolutions this year, I'm also going to use my monthly wrap-ups to talk about my progress! I think this is going to help me stay on track with these this year.

Looking back...

List of January reads
Erin Albert - The Prophecy (The Fulfillment Series #1)
Jennifer L. Armentrout - White Hot Kiss (The Dark Elements #1)
Brodi Ashton - Evertrue (Everneath #3)
Meg Cabot - She Went All the Way
Tera Lynn Childs - "Pretty in Pearls" (Just My Fins #3.5)
Gayle Forman - Just One Day (Just One Day #1) audiobook
Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner - These Broken Stars (These Broken Stars #1) audiobook
Melissa Landers - Alienated (Alienated #1)
J. Lynn - Be With Me (Wait for You #2)
Marissa Meyer - "The Little Android" (Lunar Chronicles #2.5)
Julie Murphy - Side Effects May Vary
Beth Pond - Podium Finish
Ransom Riggs - Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine #1)
Rainbow Rowell - Fangirl audiobook
Megan Shepherd - Her Dark Curiosity (Madman's Daughter #2)
Victoria Scott -  Fire & Flood (Fire & Flood #1)
Laini Taylor - Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #1) audiobook
                   - Days of Blood and Starlight (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #2) audiobook
Kasie West - The Distance Between Us

Looking ahead...
February releases I'm excited about:
Alienated by Melissa Landers (I already read it & loved it!): 4th
Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi (duh): 4th
Cress by Marissa Meyer (also duh. Also read it & loved it!): 4th
Be With Me by J. Lynn (GIVE ME THE JASE): 4th
Split Second by Kasie West: 11th
Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith (#need): 11th
Perfect Lies by Kiersten White: 11th
Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg (WOO HOO): 25th
Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott (SO good!): 25th
Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens: 25th
Tsarina by J. Nelle Patrick: 27th

February TBR:
The Geography of You and Me - Jennifer E. Smith
#scandal - Sarah Ockler
The Outsiders - S.E. Hinton
We Were Liars - E. Lockhart

Resolution Progress:
You can check out my full resolution post HERE, but I'm just going to gloss over these really quickly.
1. Post more reviews: I posted reviews this month. It's better but still not good enough. I'm going to try to review more quickly after I finish and see if that helps.
2. Create a backlist for schedule-able reviews: Didn't even try. Will be better in February!
3. Read 150 books: So far, so good. According to Goodreads, I'm at 17. This is slightly off because I don't keep track of rereads (unless it's an audibook) on there. I leave my books with the original dates read.
4. Reread 20 books: Also doing really well. I include audiobooks in this number since I only listen to books I've previously read. So far I've reread 6!
5. Listen to 20 audiobooks: I've completed 5!
6. Read 5 classics: I haven't started on this one yet, but I'm going to try in February, which is why The Outsiders is on my February TBR. 
7. Blog redesign: Not time yet. Maybe in late spring I can finally get to this. After TLA, perhaps.
8. Make more blogger friends: I think it's working! I'm talking with new people all the time! I was great at commenting at the beginning of January, but then work got crazy. It's a work in progress.
9. Read at the gym: I DID finally get my membership so this is going to start happening!
10. Be more organized: Also a work in progress. I very famously (well, famous for me) organized my "homeless" books (aka all the books that didn't have a home on a shelf or even in a box) in my room, and I have everything ready for all my upcoming events. Now I'm working on organizing digitally.

Challenge Progress:
I signed up for a LOT of challenges this year. I wondered if I was crazy or suddenly decided I liked masochism, but so far, it's going really well. The good thing is that some of my books count for multiple challenges, which is really helpful. You can check out the full details of my challenges HERE or track my progress in the challenges tab at the top, but here's a quick rundown on where I am today:

2014 New Challenges:
Standalone Challenge: 1/15
Series Challenge: 5/12
Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge: 6/25 (I have the ability to increase this goal, but I'm waiting to see)
Real Book Challenge: 7 of 21-30 (can also increase this goal, but also not sure yet
Jumble Your Genres Challenge: 2/12
TBR Pile Challenge: 9 of 11-20 (can and probably will increase my goal)
A-Z Challenge: 4/26

Challenges already in progress:
50 State Challenge: 32/52
50 Countries Challenge: 18/50
YA Challenge: 3/25


Normally, I like to do very structured posts. I'm not one for off-the-cuff, spur-of-the-moment posts ever since I discovered the scheduling feature, and I usually leave book news to websites and blogs actually devoted to such things. However, this is news that I just can't hold back. 


Yeah. Winger. Aka, one of the best books I read in all of 2013. A book that I stayed up half the night on a work night to finish, then spent a good while crying myself to sleep after because of all the emotions it stirred in me. The book I love so much I rated it 5 stars and listed it in at least 7 Top Ten Tuesdays (and have plans to include it on this upcoming week's list as well) and raved about it in my 2013 End of Year Book Survey. I love this book so much that I have a hardcover (which I happened to have gotten signed this past Saturday when I saw Andrew at YAK Fest and he was clearly sitting on this news the whole time!) and the ARC I received from Simon & Schuster at TLA last year and refuse to give away. 

Can we take a second to admire the fact that my
incredibly boyish bedspread coordinates with the cover?

For those of you who haven't even heard of Winger (WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?!), here's the summary:

Ryan Dean West is a fourteen-year-old junior at a boarding school for rich kids. He’s living in Opportunity Hall, the dorm for troublemakers, and rooming with the biggest bully on the rugby team. And he’s madly in love with his best friend Annie, who thinks of him as a little boy.

With the help of his sense of humor, rugby buddies, and his penchant for doodling comics, Ryan Dean manages to survive life’s complications and even find some happiness along the way. But when the unthinkable happens, he has to figure out how to hold on to what’s important, even when it feels like everything has fallen apart.

Filled with hand-drawn info-graphics and illustrations and told in a pitch-perfect voice, this realistic depiction of a teen’s experience strikes an exceptional balance of hilarious and heartbreaking.
Go check it out on Goodreads, and look at all the raving reviews. I don't personally know anyone who didn't love it. While you're there, you may as well go ahead and add the as-of-yet untitled sequel as well. 

Now, those of you who are really observant will see that I stated I have two copies of Winger. But, in the picture above, there are clearly three copies. So, what gives? Like I said, I saw Andrew at YAK Fest last weekend. I had a bunch of his books to be signed for an enormous Andrew-Smith-themed giveaway, probably when I finally got my hands on Grasshopper Jungle. Eff that noise. No better day than today! I'm holding onto the other books for another time, but in celebration of this amazing news, I'm giving away a signed copy of Winger. Open to the US & Canada. Ends 12 AM February 11.

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Cover Love 7

There have been a bunch of cover reveals as of late so I thought I'd just round up a bunch and share them all for anyone who has missed them. This is a pretty gorgeous bunch. I know I'm excited about them. Enjoy!

I know I already shared this cover, but I love it so much that I wanted to share it again!

The Fine Art of Pretending
Fine Art of Pretending #1
Rachel Harris
Spencer Hill Contemporary
September 2014

According to the guys at Fairfield Academy, there are two types of girls: the kind you hook up with, and the kind you're friends with. Seventeen-year-old Alyssa Reed is the second type. And she hates it. With just one year left to change her rank, she devises a plan to become the first type by homecoming, and she sets her sights on the perfect date—Justin Carter, Fairfield Academy’s biggest hottie and most notorious player.

With 57 days until the dance, Aly launches Operation Sex Appeal and sheds her tomboy image. The only thing left is for Justin actually to notice her. Enter best friend Brandon Taylor, the school’s second biggest hottie, and now Aly’s pretend boyfriend. With his help, elevating from “funny friend” to “tempting vixen” is only a matter of time.

But when everything goes according to plan, the inevitable “break up” leaves their friendship in shambles, and Aly and Brandon with feelings they can’t explain. And the fake couple discovers pretending can sometimes cost you the one thing you never expected to want.

I'm not entirely sure when the cover for Nantucket Red was released, but I just saw it and wanted to share. Nantucket Blue was really good, and I have a feeling this one is going to just destroy me.

Nantucket Red
Nantucket Blue #2
Leila Howland
May 13, 2014

Cricket Thompson's lifetime of overachieving has paid off: she's headed to Brown University in the fall, with a spot on the lacrosse team and a scholarship that covers almost everything. Who knew living in the dorm cost money? An Ivy League education seems to mean living at home for the next four years.

When Cricket is offered the chance to earn enough cash to afford a real college experience, she heads back to Nantucket for the summer. But the faraway island challenges Cricket in ways she hadn't anticipated. It's hard to focus on earning money for next year, when she finds her world opening up in entirely new ways-to art, to travel, and, most unexpectedly, to a future completely different from the one she has been working toward her whole life. A friendship blossoms with Ben, the gorgeous surfer and bartender who encourages Cricket to be free, even as she smarts at the pain of seeing Zack, her first love, falling for her worst enemy.

But one night, when Cricket finally lets herself break all her own rules, she realizes she may have ruined her carefully constructed future with one impulsive decision. Cricket must dig deep to fight for her future, discovering that success isn't just about reaching goals, but also about listening to what she's been trying to ignore-her own heart.

I have never read one of Elizabeth Fama's books before, but this cover makes me want to pick this one up. I love it!

Plus One
Elizabeth Fama
Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
April 8, 2014

Divided by day and night and on the run from authorities, star-crossed young lovers unearth a sinister conspiracy in this compelling romantic thriller.

Seventeen-year-old Soleil Le Coeur is a Smudge—a night dweller prohibited by law from going out during the day. When she fakes an injury in order to get access to and kidnap her newborn niece—a day dweller, or Ray—she sets in motion a fast-paced adventure that will bring her into conflict with the powerful lawmakers who order her world, and draw her together with the boy she was destined to fall in love with, but who is also a Ray.

Set in a vivid alternate reality and peopled with complex, deeply human characters on both sides of the day-night divide,
Plus One is a brilliantly imagined drama of individual liberty and civil rights, and a fast-paced romantic adventure story.

I need this book so badly that it physically hurts, which is funny because I know as soon as I have it, I will emotionally hurt from all the feels Julie's going to drop on me.

 The Forever Song
Blood of Eden #3
Julie Kagawa
Harlequin Teen
April 15, 2014


Allison Sekemoto once struggled with the question: human or monster?

With the death of her love, Zeke, she has her answer.


Allie will embrace her cold vampire side to hunt down and end Sarren, the psychopathic vampire who murdered Zeke. But the trail is bloody and long, and Sarren has left many surprises for Allie and her companions—her creator, Kanin, and her blood brother, Jackal. The trail is leading straight to the one place they must protect at any cost—the last vampire-free zone on Earth, Eden. And Sarren has one final, brutal shock in store for Allie.

In a ruined world where no life is sacred and former allies can turn on you in one heartbeat, Allie will face her darkest days. And if she succeeds, triumph is short-lived in the face of surviving forever alone.

Of Scars and Stardust
Andrea Hannah
October 8, 2014

After her little sister mysteriously vanishes, seventeen-year-old Claire Graham has a choice to make: stay snug in her little corner of Manhattan with her dropout boyfriend, or go back to Ohio to face the hometown tragedy she's been dying to leave behind.

But the memories of that night still haunt her in the city, and as hard as she tries to forget what her psychiatrist calls her "delusions," Claire can't seem to escape the wolf's eyes or the blood-speckled snow. Delusion or reality, Claire knows she has to hold true to the most important promise she's ever made: to keep Ella safe. She must return to her sleepy hometown in order to find Ella and keep her hallucinations at bay before they strike again. But time is quickly running out, and as Ella's trail grows fainter, the wolves are becoming startlingly real.

Now Claire must deal with her attraction to Grant, the soft-spoken boy from her past that may hold the secret to solving her sister's disappearance, while following the clues that Ella left for only her to find. Through a series of cryptic diary entries, Claire must unlock the keys to Ella's past—and her own—in order to stop another tragedy in the making, while realizing that not all things that are lost are meant to be found.


100 Sideways Miles
Andrew Smith
Simon & Schuster
September 2014

Finn Easton sees the world through miles instead of minutes. It’s how he makes sense of the world, and how he tries to convince himself that he’s a real boy and not just a character in his father’s bestselling cult-classic book. Finn has two things going for him: his best friend, the possibly-insane-but-definitely-excellent Cade Hernandez, and Julia Bishop, the first girl he’s ever loved.

Then Julia moves away, and Finn is heartbroken. Feeling restless and trapped in the book, Finn embarks on a road trip with Cade to visit their college of choice in Oklahoma. When an unexpected accident happens and the boys become unlikely heroes, they take an eye-opening detour away from everything they thought they had planned—and learn how to write their own destiny.

Waiting on Wednesday: Unforgotten

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases.

Unforgotten (Unremembered #2)
by Jessica Brody
Coming February 25, 2014
Farrar, Straus & Girous

Some memories are better left forgotten...

After a daring escape from the scientists at Diotech who created her, Seraphina believes she is finally safe from the horrors of her past. But new threats await Sera and her boyfriend, Zen, at every turn as Zen falls prey to a mysterious illness and Sera’s extraordinary abilities make it more and more difficult to stay hidden. Meanwhile, Diotech has developed a dangerous new weapon designed to apprehend her. A weapon that even Sera will be powerless to stop. Her only hope of saving Zen’s life and defeating the company that made her is a secret buried deep within her mind. A secret that Diotech will kill to protect. And it won’t stay forgotten for long.

Packed with mystery, suspense, and romance, this riveting second installment of Jessica Brody’s Unremembered trilogy delivers more heart-pounding action as loyalties are tested, love becomes a weapon, and no one’s memories are safe.

Why I want it:
I want to read Unforgotten because I've heard that this is an awesome series. I work at a science museum, and lately, I've been much more attracted to sci-fi as a result. Plus, I can't wait to go to the Girls Gone Sci-Fi tour here in Dallas and chat with Jessica all about it!

Why I think you should want it:
I suppose for the same reason I want it. Sorry, it's hard to be really persuasive for a book in a series that I have yet to read. Why don't you tell me why you're interested in the Unremembered series in the comments instead! Also, please share what you're waiting on today! Links are welcome!

At YAK Fest 14 this past weekend, I had the pleasure of meeting Jessica for the first time. I was able to talk to her about the amazing Girls Gone Sci-Fi tour and how excited I am that those remarkable ladies are swinging back to Dallas during their last stop. While we were talking, Jessica was kind enough to offer some signed Unforgotten samplers for a few lucky readers! Thank you so much, Jessica! See you in March!

This giveaway is open to the US only and will run until 12 AM February 5. First place winner will receive a signed copy of Unremembered and a sneak peek chapter sampler of Unforgotten. Second and third place will both receive signed Unforgotten samplers and signed Unremembered bookmarks. Good luck!

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Review: In the Age of Love and Chocolate by Gabrielle Zevin

Rating: 4 stars
Pub Date: October 29, 2013
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Genre: young adult
Format/Source: hardcover, borrowed from the library
Status: Final book in the Birthright trilogy


All These Things I’ve Done, the first novel in the Birthright series, introduced us to timeless heroine Anya Balanchine, a plucky sixteen year old with the heart of a girl and the responsibilities of a grown woman. Now eighteen, life has been more bitter than sweet for Anya. She has lost her parents and her grandmother, and has spent the better part of her high school years in trouble with the law. Perhaps hardest of all, her decision to open a nightclub with her old nemesis Charles Delacroix has cost Anya her relationship with Win.

Still, it is Anya’s nature to soldier on. She puts the loss of Win behind her and focuses on her work. Against the odds, the nightclub becomes an enormous success, and Anya feels like she is on her way and that nothing will ever go wrong for her again. But after a terrible misjudgment leaves Anya fighting for her life, she is forced to reckon with her choices and to let people help her for the first time in her life. 

In the Age of Love and Chocolate
is the story of growing up and learning what love really is. It showcases the best of Gabrielle Zevin’s writing for young adults: the intricate characterization of Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac and the big-heartedness of Elsewhere. It will make you remember why you loved her writing in the first place.

Top Ten Tuesday #34: DO NOT WANT

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created by The Broke and The Bookish. Each week the girls at B&B think up a fun theme, and participating bloggers post their favorite 10 books in that category. This week's theme is

Top Ten Worlds I Would NOT Inhabit/Characters I Would Not Trade Places With If They Payed Me in Solid Gold
I know the actual title of this post seems mean, but I would never, ever want to permanently inhabit these places or be these characters.

1. Katniss/Panem, The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. No. I'm sorry. No amount of boys passing me life-sustaining carbs would ever be able to force me to choose to live in Panem. Love the series, but that country is so messed up.

2. Cassie, The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey. Terrifying. The United States that Cassie knows is utterly terrifying. Like, wet-your-pants-might-as-well-curl-up-and-die-because-you're-going-to-anyway brand of terrifying.

3. Amelia, Hereafter trilogy by Tara Hudson. Oh, Amelia. This series is lovely, but so incredibly heartbreaking. I wouldn't want to switch places with Amelia because she's strong enough to make the decisions she did. I don't know if I would have been.

4. David/Newcago, Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson. I love superhero stories, but this is a superhero horror story. The guys who should be good? Yeah, they're despicable, murderous monsters. Nothankyou.

5. Allie, Blood of Eden trilogy by Julie Kagawa. Vampires plagued with a superiority complex, a super bug, horrifically genetically engineered canibalistic monsters, and a psychopathic genius. Um...I'll pass. This series is so ridiculously good and wrings all the feels out of me, but I could never live in it. I would die. Literally. Immediately. Just...*poof* *iz ded* *rabids go nom nom nom*

6. Liesel/WWII Germany, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. The most heartbreaking of this list, I think, because it was a real place and a real time. I can't even begin to imagine the sorrows of the people during that time.

7. The peculiar children in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. Creepy, creepy world those kids live in. They have powers, yes, but they are hunted for them, and the only semi-safe option they have is to hide themselves away from the world a la Peter Pan and the Lost Boys and relive the same day over and over and over and over and over.... Never growing up and getting to experience all life has to offer is a horrible thing, and I pity them. They're in their 70s and 80s, and yet, they're still only children.

8. Meghan & Ethan Chase/The Nevernever, Iron Fey & Iron Fey: Forgotten series by Julie Kagawa. Julie sure knows how to write 'em. The Nevernever, aka Faery is the worst. I'd actually take the world in Blood of Eden over the Nevernever because at least Allie knows where she stands. The Nevernever and its inhabitants are always scheming to do you grevious damage, the least of which is death. Give me a dang sword or a branch or whatever, and I'll at least make a stand against the rabids, but in the Iron Fey series, your own words can destroy you faster than a weapon ever could.

9. Ember, Article 5 trilogy by Kristen Simmons. More than some other highly excellent and creeptastic future dystopians (Divergent, Delirium, Legend, Wither, etc), the Article 5 series really does scare me because I can honestly see how we could go from our society today to the shambling country Ember and Chase reside in. This one hits me especially close to home because quite literally, half of the series takes place in my hometown. The square my mom and I watch Shakespeare plays in each summer? Scene to brutal mobs and murder. Wonderful series, but it scares the crap out of me.

10. Tina Fey, Bossypants by Tina Fey. Wait, no, that's a lie. I do want to be Tina Fey. I can do her Sarah Palin impersonation and everything!

Actual #10. Alina/Ravka, Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. Unless Mal/The Darkling/Sturmhond/Nikolai are all shirtless at all times and hanging out with me exclusively, Ravka is not a place I would want to live. It's terrifying. Thanks a lot, Leigh. You create the men of my dreams and place them in the world of my nightmares. You did that on purpose.

So that's my list. Some real (or at least more realistic) worlds, some fantastical, some silly. All are stunningly horrific, and that's one reason I really love all those books.  What's on  your list this week? Share your links!

Review: White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Rating: 4 stars
Pub Date: February 25, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Genre: young adult paranormal (GARGOYLES! also demons) romance
Format/Source: DRC, Netgalley
Status: book 1 of the Dark Elements series
Links: "Bitter Sweet Love" (Dark Elements #0.5) review

One kiss could be the last.

Seventeen-year-old Layla just wants to be normal. But with a kiss that kills anything with a soul, she's anything but normal. Half demon, half gargoyle, Layla has abilities no one else possesses.

Raised among the Wardens—a race of gargoyles tasked with hunting demons and keeping humanity safe—Layla tries to fit in, but that means hiding her own dark side from those she loves the most. Especially Zayne, the swoon-worthy, incredibly gorgeous and completely off-limits Warden she's crushed on since forever.

Then she meets Roth—a tattooed, sinfully hot demon who claims to know all her secrets. Layla knows she should stay away, but she's not sure she wants to—especially when that whole no-kissing thing isn't an issue, considering Roth has no soul.

But when Layla discovers she's the reason for the violent demon uprising, trusting Roth could not only ruin her chances with Zayne…it could brand her a traitor to her family. Worse yet, it could become a one-way ticket to the end of the world.

Cover Reveal: The Fine Art of Pretending by Rachel Harris

I'm a member of Rachel's street team, the Flirt Squad, so I've been getting sneak peeks from this book for months now. I am SO GLAD I can finally reveal the cover to you guys!

The Fine Art of Pretending
Fine Art of Pretending #1
by Rachel Harris
September 30, 2014
Spencer Hill Contemporary


According to the guys at Fairfield Academy, there are two types of girls: the kind you hook up with, and the kind you're friends with. Seventeen-year-old Alyssa Reed is the second type. And she hates it. With just one year left to change her rank, she devises a plan to become the first type by homecoming, and she sets her sights on the perfect date—Justin Carter, Fairfield Academy’s biggest hottie and most notorious player.

With 57 days until the dance, Aly launches Operation Sex Appeal and sheds her tomboy image. The only thing left is for Justin actually to notice her. Enter best friend Brandon Taylor, the school’s second biggest hottie, and now Aly’s pretend boyfriend. With his help, elevating from “funny friend” to “tempting vixen” is only a matter of time.

But when everything goes according to plan, the inevitable “break up” leaves their friendship in shambles, and Aly and Brandon with feelings they can’t explain. And the fake couple discovers pretending can sometimes cost you the one thing you never expected to want.

About the Author
Author of fun & flirty escapes about sassy girls-next-door and the hot guys that make them swoon. I grew up in New Orleans, watching soap operas with my grandmother, and staying up late sneak-reading my mama's romance novels. Today, I still stay up late reading romances, only now I do so openly.

A Cajun cowgirl now living in Houston, I firmly believe life's problems can be solved with a hot, sugar-coated beignet or a thick slice of king cake, and that screaming at strangers for cheap, plastic beads is acceptable behavior in certain situations.

I homeschool my two beautiful girls and watch countless hours of Food Network and reality television with my amazing husband. I write YA, NA, and Adult romance and LOVE talking with readers!

Author Links:

Super cute, right?! I can't wait to read this one. I don't know who I have to beg, but I desperately need to get my hands on this one asap! Please leave Rachel some love via the comments or contact her directly using her links!

Ignite Me Giveaway (UPDATED)

In a few weeks, I have the opportunity to attend the Dark Days tour for the second year, and that means I'll have the pleasure of seeing Tahereh Mafi for the fourth time. I'm running out of books for her to personalize to me so this time, I'm giving you guys the opportunity to win a book personalized by Tahereh. I'm offering the winner of this giveaway the opportunity to have a signed & personalized copy of Ignite Me. BUT WAIT! I'll up the ante for you. If entries surpass 1000, I'll throw in a paperback of either Shatter Me or Unravel Me (winner's choice). If entries pass 2000, I'll add the other. If entries pass 3000, I'll even throw in Unite Me. So no matter what, the winner is getting Ignite Me with the possibility of the whole series. It's up to you guys! The more you share, the more daily entries you get, the better the pot will be. And I'll give you a few weeks to get there to boot.

UPDATE: You have earned the entire trilogy (Shatter Me, Unravel Me, Ignite Me) PLUS Unite Me! Congratulations! You've got 4 days left to get in all the entries you can. GOOD LUCK!

This giveaway is open to US & Canada. Please follow giveaway policies as stated in the Site & Giveaway policies tab at the top of the screen. All entries will be verified. Giveaway runs 12 AM January 26 until 12 AM February 18. Like with my other two personalized giveaways, the mandatory entry is the name I'll write on the post-it. Be specific and please check your spelling very carefully before you submit. At the end of the giveaway, I'll contact the winner via email. If the other books have been added, I'll verify which name you want all of the books personalized to. I'll allow different names for different books, but again, I won't ship to separate addresses. Best of luck!

Weekly wrap-up: January 19-25

Right this very moment I'm at YAKFest 2014! This has been a stellar week with my first events of 2014, and things are only picking up from here. I didn't get a ton of reading done, but I was able to complete a lot of behind-the-scenes blog work. I'm so excited for you guys to see what's coming next! Expect more event recaps because I've got at least one a week for the next few weeks as well as a back log that I wasn't able to post in December like I wanted. How was your week?

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine #1) - Ransom Riggs: 3.5 stars. This book is both interesting and well-written, it's just....exceedingly peculiar indeed and quite dense. There's so much going on, monsters and time travel and supernatural powers and lots of characters that it made it somewhat tough to get through.
Side Effects May Vary - Julie Murphy: 5 stars. I've been wanting to read SEMV since April 2013. I was not disappointed. This isn't cute and fluffy contemporar. It's angry and cruel and absolutely brilliant. I can't wait for everyone to read it.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone audiobook (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #1) - Laini Taylor & Khristine Hvam: 5 STARS! This is a very cinematic book so it makes total sense that the audiobook would be as dramatic and lovely. Khristine is a wonderful narrator. Her voices for each character are spectacular, and even her regular narrating voice for non-dialogue makes the words come alive and sparkle. Truly a masterpiece!

Currently Reading:
 Incarnate - Jodi Meadows. I am SO BEHIND on the #IncarnateReadAThon! But I'm very happy I'm participating at least a little. I'd forgotten so much! Also, I'm liking it much, much more this second time around that I know I'm going to bump my rating up from the 3 stars I originally rated it.
Days of Blood & Starlight audiobook - Laini Taylor
Evertrue (Everneath #3) - Brodi Ashton. Oh my gosh. On page 20, Jack kicks in a door and rips a safe out of the wall. I had to put the book down and get fresh air because I was having so many naughty thoughts about him at that moment.

New to my bookshelf this week:
NADA! It's always a crazy week when I manage to not get a book from the library. But then I bought a whole bunch so this doesn't count quite as much

Once again, a motley assortment of books collected from Half Price Books, Amazon, and Book Outlet! Oh, and Target.

The only book not included in the picture is Incarnate by Jodi Meadows which I bought for Kindle. I mean, it was $1.99. SALE ON SAM!

Thank you, Harper Collins!!
Say What You Will - Cammie McGovern

Thank you, Sourcebooks Fire!
The Summer I Wasn't Me - Jessica Verdi

Thank you to Macmillan/Farrar Strauss & Giroux!
On the Road to Find Out - Rachel Toor

Thank you, Penguin/Razorbill!
Tsarina - J. Nelle Patrick (aka Jackson Pearce). YAY! I've been wanting this one since day one!
Events Attended:
Ransom Riggs signing (Hollow City tour) @ B&N in Frisco, TX. 1/22
YAK Fest @ Keller High School in Ft Worth, TX. 1/25

Hollow City Tour with Ransom Riggs

HOORAY! First author event of 2014! Wednesday, January 22, I went to Ransom's Dallas stop of his Hollow City tour. I actually met Ransom waaay back in July, which you can read about HERE, but it was awesome seeing him again. Panels are so much fun because authors can play off each other, but it's really cool to go to an event with one featured author because there's more interplay with the audience and that author really has a chance to shine. Now, I hope Ransom will forgive me, but since there were only 200 people at Beneath the Surface, and that was for six authors, I figured this would be a much smaller event. Also, a lot of Dallas bookish people on Twitter were pretty mum about attending. Imagine my surprise when I came rolling in at 6:10 (a full 50 minutes before the event's official start) and ALL THE SEATS WERE ALREADY TAKEN. I found a seat over to the side, but 30 minutes before showtime, this is what the Barnes & Noble looked like:

So that was pretty crazy. Shout out to my friends at Frisco's Stonebrook B&N. You ladies are spectacular, and I have missed you tons! Keep up the good work! After a traffic delay (pretty typical for rush-ish hour in Dallas), Ransom came rolling in, and it was time to get started!

Ransom: It's been two and a half years since Miss Peregrine came out. I didn't tour so this is a new experience. It's weird to see book printed and in hands of anyone other than my mom. 

Full Q&A AND a giveaway under the cut!

Blog Tour: Podium Finish by Beth Pond

Rating: 3.5 stars
Pub Date: November 14, 2013
Publisher: Astraea Press
Genre: young adult contemporary, sports (ice skating/hockey)
Format/Source: DRC, from the publisher
Status: standalone

Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review as part of the blog tour, which was organized & hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer. The full tour schedule can be found HERE. Please go give my fellow tour hosts some love!

With six months until the Olympic Games, seventeen-year-old Harper's life is pretty much perfect. She's fighting for the starting spot on Team USA Women's Hockey, and for the first time ever, she has a crush on a guy who likes her back. She feels like the luckiest girl in the world, until she runs a risky play at practice and breaks her knee, thereby sentencing herself to six weeks in a cast and possibly ending her Olympic dream before it even starts.

For seventeen-year-old Alex, being anything less than the best is unacceptable. That's why, after a miserable debut season at the senior level, the former junior national singles champion switches to ice dance. Her skating partner, Ace, is an "all skating all the time" type of guy, which would be fine, if he'd stop keeping secrets about the real reason he and his former partner broke up. Now is not the time for second thoughts, but how can Alex skate her best if she can’t trust her partner…or herself?

As the pressure to make the Olympic team builds, the girls must rely on each other, because if there’s one thing they both know, it's that the only thing harder than skating to the top is staying there.

Waiting on Wednesday: To All the Boys I've Loved Before

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases.

To All the Boys I've Loved Before
by Jenny Han
Coming April 15, 2014
Simon & Schuster

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister's ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

Why I want it:
I enjoyed the Summer series. I'll admit, it wasn't my favorite trilogy ever, but it was a good, filling beach read. What I liked best about it was the emotion Jenny put into each word. The characters were built on emotion. The plot was built on it. Despite not loving it the way most readers have, I very much appreciate an author who makes me feel so much for not loving a book. That is truly an impressive quality for a writer to have. Plus, I'm really excited about this concept. See below.

Why I think you should want it:
For fans of Belly, I know you're already foaming at the mouth. For those who are new to Jenny Han, you're going to want this one because this book is going to do what we all want to do: write letters to people from the past...and send them. It's like Post Secret without actually being a secret! We are going to be mortified on Lara Jean's behalf for a while (mortification is so entertaining when it's not happening to you!), but then, I think we're all going to be impressed and also slightly jealous because most of us don't have the chutzpah to do such a thing on purpose. Now, I know Lara Jean didn't actually do it on purpose, but I can already tell she has some spark to her. This is like a fiction-but-also-real-life-if-that-makes-any-sense version of a Taylor Swift song. I love it, and I really think you will too. Bring it on, Jenny!

Top Ten Tuesday #33: Reading Wishlist

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created by The Broke and The Bookish. Each week the girls at B&B think up a fun theme, and participating bloggers post their favorite 10 books in that category. This week's theme is

Top Ten Characters/Themes/Ideas on my Reading Wish List
This is quite possibly the most difficult topic I've ever done.

1. Teenage succubus. This could be so much fun. I don't even think about it in a smutty way. If done correctly, this could be campy and awesome. Succubus in training who messes everything up!

2. Steampunkish fairies. Fairies are supposed to be nature spirits blah blah blah. But once upon a time, supernatural creatures were referred to as machinery in plays because they often help the plot along, keep the story's gears turning. I've had this in my head ever since.

3. More religious characters but not in religious fiction. I would love to see more mcs who embrace religion in "normal" ya fiction. Often, those characters are relegated to preachy religiously-minded books. I don't want books to preach to me, but I would like to see religion portrayed a bit more realistically on the page.

4. More body equality for characters! This is actually a big one on my wishlist, and it's not just for girls. Authors really are giving female characters more diversity with their body shapes, but it seems like all the guys are cut and chiseled and hard planes of smooth skin and blah blah blah. Boys aren't built like that. Cath (and therefore Rainbow Rowell) mentions it in Fangirl, how Levi is softer and rounder than she had imagined. How he had curves too. There's nothing wrong with drooling over a male character who has a body like the David, but let's get some realism going on here too! Fat Kid Rules the World indeed!

5. Fewer book-loving, introverted mc's. Not that there's anything wrong with it. I am a book-loving introvert myself! I just don't want to have to read about them all the time. Again, it's all about diversity! I want a little variety in my reading.

6. Fewer clichéd phrases. In romance, it's "falling over the edge" and all those horrific sexy times metaphors. In ya, there are far too many descriptions of unique eyes and how apparently every shirt ever will "bring out the color of [someone's] eyes." Got blue eyes and wearing a blue shirt? Apparently your eyes look bluer! Got blue eyes and wearing a green shirt? Even more blue. Blue eyes and a puke-colored shirt? SO MUCH BLUE LIKE THE SKY AT NOON/MIDNIGHT/ALL THE TIME. Ugh. Kill me. Plz stahp.

7. Fewer SURPRISE-WE'RE-FAMILY! moments. As much as I love the series, The Mortal Instruments is a pretty good bad example of this. Clary + Jace: Let's make out. No, jk, we're siblings, better not, but I'm still hot and bothered for you so let's make out anyway. Guess what, we're not siblings anymore NOM NOM NOM. Sebastian-when-he-was-legit-being-Sebastian: Hey, Clary, let's make out. Jk, lol, I'm your psycho brother. Valentine: *has all the kids* Jace: WTF is his name now? Srsly, it's like an episode of Passions. And TMI is NOT the only offender out there so don't even go hating on it alone. Let's cut down on the amount of really dramatic familial revelations, shall we? Not every ya novel can have a character with one (or even both) parents presumed dead and then have them come back to life. Ditto secret siblings. 

8. More racial diversity & less hating on authors because we don't agree with how they're attempting to portray it. A lot of authors get crap for "not being realistic with poc characters." Well, 1. props to any author who does make the attempt and 2. maybe that's their experience, which would make it real to them but not necessarily real to you. I admit, growing up in East Tennessee....not a lot of diversity. My two best black friends? One worked at American Eagle, loves polka dots, and vintage clothing. She is the preppiest of the preppiest. The other is pretty granola and would be happier living in a hippie commune than a city in a conservative state. My close experience with people of other races is probably vastly different from anyone who grew up in more urban area. Now I live in Dallas, which has introduced me to life in a heavily Hispanic-influenced city, and this life is not something I ever would have known before last year. I'm learning, and so are we all. This is not me saying it's okay to be outright racist, but I like to think well of others and give them the benefit of the doubt. In our ya community, I very much doubt that most of our authors have a goal to be a racist. Most are pretty great people who would never be so crude. So let's cut authors some slack because as long as they're trying, we're getting somewhere.

9. More unique settings. I'm sure it's easier to set a novel in LA or New York or Paris or London because the reasearch is much easier, but I'd love to see some random and wacky settings like Bozeman, Montana (shout out to all my BBT nerds out there!), or San Gimignano, Italy, or BFE Australia. I love that books have the power to take us all over the let's do it!

Actually, that wasn't so bad once I started writing them up...until I got to number 10. I kept feeling like it should be a big one, an epic final wish for my wishlist. I couldn't think of anything that fit. Heck, I couldn't think of anything at all. And then it hit me. Something pretty simple. Something I've wanted for a while.

10. Audiobooks with a male and female co-narrators. Lemme explain. This actually happens a lot. The Infernal Devices, These Broken Stars, Fangirl. All had male and female narrators alternating. TBS, the male narrator read all of Tarver's chapters, including Lilac's lines and the female character did Lilac's chapters including Tarver's lines. guys had two narrators. You had a Tarver. You had a Lilac. Why didn't you just go ahead and have Tarver read his lines in Lilac's chapters and Lilac in Tarver's?! You used two narrators for the interrogation sequences! I loved the TID audiobooks, and I was really looking forward to hearing dreamy Ed Westwick read some of the Tessa and Jem in his room? ;) Imagine my disappointment when the female narrator did that scene instead. Major bummer! I don't need audiobooks acted out like a movie, but I would like to see more audiobooks make use of multiple narrators and actually have the guy read the male characters' lines, you know?

That's it. That's my wishlist. Feel free to judge me if you don't agree, but let me know why, okay? Share your links! I'd love to know what you put down for your list and if it was easier for you to write than this one was for me!

Novella Review: Night of Cake & Puppets

Rating: 5 stars
Pub Date: November 26, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre: young adult fantasy, magical realism, romance
Format/Source: ebook, bought from Amazon
Status: novella, book #1.5 of Daughter of Smoke & Bone series
Summary: In Night of Cake & Puppets, Taylor brings to life a night only hinted at in the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy—the magical first date of fan-favorites Zuzana and Mik. Told in alternating perspectives, it’s the perfect love story for fans of the series and new readers alike. Petite though she may be, Zuzana is not known for timidity. Her best friend, Karou, calls her “rabid fairy,” her “voodoo eyes” are said to freeze blood, and even her older brother fears her wrath. But when it comes to the simple matter of talking to Mik, or “Violin Boy,” her courage deserts her. Now, enough is enough. Zuzana is determined to meet him, and she has a fistful of magic and a plan. It’s a wonderfully elaborate treasure hunt of a plan that will take Mik all over Prague on a cold winter’s night before finally leading him to the treasure: herself! Violin Boy’s not going to know what hit him.

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I started listening to the Daughter of Smoke and Bone audiobook in my car this week, and I love that it's taken me back to the world of Karou and her chimera friends and Akiva and the angels, which is something "Night of Cake and Puppets" also did a couple months ago when it was released. This novella doesn't follow the primary action of the trilogy, instead detailing the story of Zuzana, Karou's best friend, and Mik, the boy she loves. This novella is lovely, as are all of Laini's stories. There is magic in this story, and not just all the wishes Zuzana uses to create the treasure hunt. The magic is Laini and the enchanting world she has created and the gorgeous words she uses like paints to create it.

Zuzana has always been a feisty character so I loved seeing her a little unsure. It...softened her, made her less intimidating and human. In Days of Blood and Starlight, she and Mik basically march up to a camp of chimera more or less fearlessly. It's amazing and totally relatable that a cute boy nearly brings her to her knees. At the same time, I absolutely admire and covet her bravery to go after Mik in such spectacular fashion. Meanwhile Mik, who is quite a small character in the main plot arc, shines as the winsome suitor. Mik is charming and sweet, which is a lovely change from the hardened and tough male characters who dominate Karou's story (not that I don't love them too!). 

The plot of this novella is quite simple: Zuzana creates a treasure hunt for Mik, and she is the prize. The real magic is the getting there. These two circle one another throughout the snow-silenced streets of Prague in a dance every bit as alluring and elegant as Zuzana's marionette dance for her school project. Zuzana makes good use of the wishes Karou left her, and she and Mik each add some of their own. The fact that Zuzana created the hunt and that Mik is so willing to play along–and even add a couple twists of his own–casts an intangible but very real spell over this story and the reader. I was entralled by this darling short story. I found myself gasping and sighing dreamily at all the good parts. This, and my reread of DoBS and Days of Blood and Starlight, are more than enough to tide me over until the conclusion of the trilogy with Dreams of Gods and Monsters, which is sure to be just as much of a magical adventure.

Book Links:

About the Author:
Laini Taylor is the author of the National Book Award Finalist Lips Touch: Three Times, as well as the novels Blackbringer and Silksinger. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband, illustrator Jim Di Bartolo, and their daughter.

Author Links:

Giveaway: Cress by Marissa Meyer (UPDATED)

I just found out this week that I WILL get to see Marissa Meyer on her massive upcoming Cress tour, and that's good news for you! I will give one winner a signed and personalized copy of Cress! If entries pass 2000, I'll add a copy of either Cinder or Scarlet, and if they pass 3000, I'll toss in the other!

Update: You guys have earned either a copy of Cinder or Scarlet (winner's choice)! Less than 1000 entries and you'll get ALL THREE BOOKS! So spread the word!

This giveaway is open to US & Canada. Please follow giveaway policies as stated in the Site Policies tab at the top of the screen. All entries will be verified. Giveaway runs 12 AM January 19 until 12 AM February 11. Like with my Evertrue/Infinite giveaway, the mandatory entry is the name I'll write on the post-it. If you want it to go to Sarah, type Sarah. If you want it to go to Sarah Beth Johnson, type Sarah Beth Johnson. Be specific and please check your spelling very carefully before you submit. At the end of the giveaway, I'll contact the winner via email. If the other books have been added, I'll verify which name you want all of the books personalized to. I'll allow different names for different books, but I won't ship to separate addresses. Good luck!

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Weekly wrap-up: January 12-18

This week is yet another that I can truly said I had a real book HAUL. A lot of the ones I bought were from a week or two ago, but they've just come in. Plus some trade, some wins, and some amazing, greatly anticipated review books came in as well! I also organized a bunch of my books with much success and amusement. If you're not following me on Twitter, you're missing out! I gave away 8 books on there after live-tweeting hide-and-seek with my books.

Sadly, not a lot of reading was done. I'm working SO MUCH right now. It's a good thing because money does fuel my book habit, after all, but it's exhausting to work, read, and blog all in one day. Oh, and make time for things like eating and sleeping! At least the books I read were of good quality. Can't complain in that regard! How has your week been? Read anything great? Please let me know!

Podium Finish - Beth Pond: 3 1/2 stars. It was hard to not compare this to Being Sloane Jacobs, but I did my best. Interesting story, relatable characters, definitely more of a focus on the sports. Not a favorite read, but a fun and enjoyable one.
Fire & Flood (Fire & Flood #1) - Victoria Scott: 4 stars. Such an exciting beginning to this new series. You'll love Guy for sure, and meanwhile, I'll be over here dreaming about Braun, thankyouverymuch! ;) I can't wait to learn even more about the Brimstone Bleed. You'll be left needing more!

Fangirl audiobook - Rainbow Rowell, Rebecca Lowman & Maxwell Caulfield: 5 FREAKING WELL-EARNED STARS. This book. I'm pretty sure it's one I'm going to end up buying in every format ever. It's just so good. Each character got a voice, and it's just a sublime reading. I discovered even more wonderful lines, and I assure you that it is possible to fall even more in love with Levi.

Currently Reading:
Daughter of Smoke & Bone audiobook - Laini Taylor. Just started this morning, but I'm really excited about it!
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - Ransom Riggs. I'm meeting Ransom for the second time this week!

New to my bookshelf this week:
Unbreathable - Hafsah Laziaf. I'm part of her street team and had to make sure my library bought a copy!
The F--- It List - Julie Halpern
What Happens Next - Colleen Clayton
Cold Spell (Fairytale Retellings #4) - Jackson Pearce
Ketchup Clouds - Annabel Pitcher
Starry Nights - Daisy Whitney
Prodigy audiobook - Marie Lu

Lots of book packages came pouring in this week so I'm getting primed & ready for YAK Fest next week and TLA in April! This is a mix of Amazon, Book Outlet, Malaprops, Books & Books, and Half Price Books!

Perfect Ruin - Lauren DeStefano. So glad I finally got a copy of my very own. I love this book!

Giveaways & Contests:
Somehow, I managed to win two of Bibliopunkk Krys's totally random giveaways, and I managed to snag the following ARCs from her:
Hereafter - Tara Hudson. This will be signed NEXT WEEK.
Find Me - Romily Bernard
Die for Me - Amy Plum (!!!!)
Great - Sara Benincasa
Ten - Gretchen McNeil

Thank you to Scholastic/Point for these amazing titles!
Better Off Friends - Elizabeth Eulberg. *must not hyperventilate* I am so thrilled and honored to have received this book for review. Elizabeth is a favorite author of mine. I just adore everything she writes!
Tales From My Closet - Jennifer Anne Moses

THANK YOU to Little, Brown/Hatchette/Poppy for this one:
The Geography of You and Me - Jennifer E. Smith. I love her so, so much. Her books are magic. It was luck that got me this book the same week I'd already planned on doing a WoW post on it! See? Magic!

Thank you to Harlequin Teen for these beauties:
The Secret Diamond Sisters - Michelle Madow
Grim - Christine Johnson. I love anthologies! I was thrilled when I heard about Grim, so much that I even added it to Goodreads myself. So many amazing authors. Kagawa, Pearce, Gray, Hawkins, Derting, Gensler, Gratton, Mitchell... I love them all!

Huge thank you to Dutton/Penguin for this one.
The Immortal Crown (Age of X #2) - Richelle Mead. I loved Richelle when I read VA all those years ago, but I stay with her because she continues to write such brilliant novels. I fell in love with this world in Gameboard of the Gods and gave it a glowing 5 star review. I am absolutely honored to have the opportunity to do so again.

Thank you, Atria for these two!
Ten Tiny Breaths (Ten Tiny Breaths #1) - K.A. Tucker
Four Seconds to Lose (Ten Tiny Breaths #3) - K.A. Tucker

Three - Kristen Simmons. !!!!!!!!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH, TOR & MACMILLAN!! *hugs*

I've never posted swag in my wrap-up before, but these two are pretty special: a lovely These Broken Stars poster from Malaprops and a Cress comb from Macmillan!